UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
ROUND OF 16 (First leg)
TUESDAY 14TH FEBRUARY, 2023
A.C.MILAN 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Brahim Diaz, 7
Referee:- Sandro Schärer SUI
Assistants:- Stephane De Almeida SUI, Bekim Zogaj SUI
Fourth official:- Lukas Fähndrich SUI
VAR:- Marco Fritz GER
Assistant VAR:- Fedayi San SUI
Milan (3-4-3):- Tatarusanu; Kalulu, Kjaer, Thiaw; Saelemaekers (sub Messias, 77) , Krunic, Tonali (sub Pobega, 88), Hernandez (Capt.); Brahim Diaz (sub De Ketelaere, 77), Giroud, Rafael Leao (sub Rebic,90+1)
Subs not used:- Mirante, Nava (GKs); Calabria, Ballo, Gabbia; Origi
Booked:- Tonali (foul on Kane), Hernandez (foul on Richarlison)
Spurs (3-4-3):- Forster; Romero, Dier, Lenglet (sub Davies, 81); Emerson Royal, Skipp, Sarr, Perisic; Kulusevski (sub Richarlison, 70), Kane (Capt.), Son (sub Danjuma, 81)
Subs not used:- Austin, Whiteman (GKs); Sanchez, Tanganga; Pedro Porro, Devine; Lucas Moura
Booked:- Romero (foul on Tonali), Dier (foul on Giroud) – Dier will be suspended for the second leg
All to play for
Thanks to Eugene Gasper for this picture
Put it this way. If Spurs had been at home for the first leg of this tie and had won 1-0, would you feel comfortable and confident going into the second leg? The answer is a resounding “No!” Spurs have it all to play for in the second leg in three weeks’ time in front of their full house. They went down in the San Siro cauldron by an early goal, although they will be grateful for two escapes when Milan missed two good headed chances which would have put the tie out of our reach.
Fears had been expressed before the game over the enforced use of Ollie Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr in midfield, due to injuries to Bentancur and Bissouma and a one-match suspension for Hojbjerg. Skipp was making his first Champions League start and for Sarr it was a Champions League debut. Those fears were unfounded, as both players gave very good accounts of themselves and can be proud of their performances.
What was worrying was poor defending by Romero for the early goal and the inability of our attack to truly test Milan’s 37-year-old goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Both sides named just 10 of the permitted 12 substitutes. Both included two goalkeepers. Milan had been hoping to field former Chelsea centre-back Fikayo Tomori, but he had not quite returned to fitness after recent injury.
Antonio conte was returning to home ground, of course, and he played Emerson Royal in preference to Pedro Porro. Royal had another good game, and it’s a shame he had not started at Leicester on Saturday. Spurs played in their all-white European strip.
The match was preceded by a period of silence in support of the many thousands of victims of the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
Spurs kicked off and spent a brief spell in the Milan half before the home side had an early free kick after a foul by Emerson on danger man Rafael Leao. That kick was defended and cleared, and Spurs won a corner at the other end after an Emerson throw-in from the right. Spurs’ short corner routine didn’t work.
The early goal resulted from a long ball forward which Romero failed to defend properly, allowing Hernandez to get around him on the outside down the left flank. Hernandez approached the bye-line and hit a powerful shot which Forster saved but could only parry. The ball reached Brahim Diaz, whose initial effort was quite brilliantly saved by Forster, but with the ball popping up into the air near the goal-line Diaz’s impetus carried him through and he dived to head the ball over the line. Diaz had been on Manchester City’s books as a youngster, but made few appearances, before a move to Real Madrid. This is his third season on loan to Milan.
Spurs had several free kicks and corners, but with no end result. A powerful free kick by Son was deflected off the head of Dier and held by the keeper. Dier headed another Son kick way too wide of the target. An advancing Lenglet was impeded by Saelemaekers but ultimately Spurs’ cross from the left was held. Emerson hit a right-footed shot off target after Pape Sarr had won the ball in the final third with a good tackle. Harry Kane went down with a head injury when he rose and clashed with Danish international Kjaer for a Perisic cross. Harry was soon back on his feet. Kjaer had been giving Kane close attention throughout.
Spurs were holding their own, apart from that early deficit.
Hernandez got the better of Romero again, but a corner was the result this time. Kulusevski and Emerson battled hard to get forward at the other end. Emerson’s cross, intended for Son, went for a corner, but when that was taken by Perisic the goalkeeper rose to collect easily.
Giroud hit a good ball on the break for Rafael Leao. Spurs had been caught on the hop, but Leao put his effort woefully wide. Son broke forward and had a shot saved. Kane followed up and hit the bar, but Son had been offside. Emerson got on the end of a deep cross by Perisic. A Kane shot was then blocked, but there was another late offside flag, as is the current idiom. In first half added time after a foul on Kane, Son’s free kick was cleared by Tatarusanu, but that flag had been raised again.
There were no changes at the start of the second half and Milan kicked off. Romero soon saw the first yellow of the game with a meaty challenge upon Tonali. This was described as an orange card by BT’s former referee adviser Peter Walton.
There was foul by Krunic on Kane just outside the box, but Swiss referee Sandro Schärer decreed that should be taken from 25 yards. Son’s free kick was aimed towards the back of the area where Kulusevski’s shot was blocked then Lenglet was deemed to have fouled the goalkeeper when trying to reach the lofted loose ball. Tatarusanu needed treatment but was able to continue. The two sub keepers were aged 39 and 19!
Son won a corner on the right, taken by Perisic, but again too close to the keeper. Now Dier was booked for a foul on Giroud. Eric felt hard done by with some justification, but Conte will have to manage without him on March 8th.
Milan were proving resilient, closing Spurs down in all areas. Lenglet advanced again and worked well with Perisic before his cross went off Kjaer for another corner. Nothing came of this (yet again) before Kulusevski was replaced by Richarlison, who must be desperate for more Spurs game time.
Emerson passed to Skipp to his right, and he fed the ballot Richarlison who had a right foot shot blocked before Sarr’s effort from distance was easy for the Milan keeper.
21-year-old Charles De Ketelaere replaced Diaz and his was one of two headed chances spurned. Giroud had given the young sub a clear chance, but he headed wide. Within a minute after a cross from the left Thiaw headed just in front of Forster’s right post with the keeper seemingly beaten. Spurs had escaped for the second time.
Sarr had a shot which took a slight deflection for a corner after Richarlison’s lay-off. Spurs pressed hard for an equaliser, but it would not come. Perisic’s corner was headed into the ground by Dier, before falling into the goalkeeper’s arms. Ben Davies hit a shot from distance which was aimed at row Z in the stand.
Milan had another chance when Giroud tried to find Leao with another long ball from the right, but Leao over-ran his effort, and the ball ran to Forster. Danjuma had replaced Son and in the dying moments, he was involved in the move which gave Kane a chance which was blocked before Richarlison was also blocked on the edge of the area.
We do live to fight another day. Spurs’ next two games are home league derbies against West Ham and Chelsea.
· Spurs fall to a narrow first-leg defeat at Milan
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
· Read the preview for this game.
· All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats
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